April 23, 2012
BSC Mystery #26, Dawn Schafer, Undercover Baby-sitter: Like The Westing Game, But Without the Good Parts
Summary: Now that the BSC girls are back from Hawaii, there’s a lot of sitting to be done. The girls get two calls for the same house and are told that two sitters will be needed for two separate sets of kids. It’s Dawn’s book, so of course she’s one of the sitters. The story is that there are two estranged sisters staying at the house, which belonged to their late father. They’re staying with their kids in separate wings and don’t want the kids to spend time together.
More of the story comes out as the sitting job goes on: There’s a younger sister, Amy, who’s also staying at the house, and there was a younger brother named Patrick who died as a teenager. The sisters’ father, Arthur Livingston, made sure each daughter received a clue when he died. Whoever solves some stupid puzzle gets his estate. The guy was clearly a jerk and enjoyed making his children compete with each other, which is why the older sisters hate each other. Amy wants everyone to work things out, and she especially wants to get to know her nieces and nephew.
Since it’s a Dawn book, there’s also some spooky stuff going on in the house. Dawn thinks Mr. Livingston isn’t really dead, since she sees a recent check with the signature A. Livingston on it. She also keeps feeling like she’s being watched and thinks the butler, John, is a bit suspicious. Dawn hears him and Amy fighting about revealing information and can tell there’s something strange going on there.
Anyway, the kids are pretty nice but don’t understand why they’re not allowed to hang out together. The sisters eventually agree to let the BSC girls get them together, and the kids all get along well. One of them reveals that she knows her mother’s clue, which gets the kids thinking about the mystery. Amy also shares her clue with Dawn, so the kids and the BSC girls have two of the three clues. The kids convince the other mother to share hers, and after some thinking (more than should be necessary, since the clues are incredibly easy), Dawn figures out that they need to find a portrait in the house.
The sisters find the right portrait, but before they check the code on the back to see if it matches what they need to get the inheritance, John reveals that he’s actually Patrick. Mr. Livingston was mad at him for something or another and told his sisters (but not Amy) that he was dead. What a lovely man. Suddenly the sisters want to work things out and split the inheritance four ways. They’ve found the right portrait, so they get the inheritance, and everyone is happy. Mr. Livingston is presumably burning in Hell. Oh, and the A. Livingston signature was Amy’s, not that anyone cares.
The B-plot is also Dawn’s: She’s so popular and busy that she doesn’t have much time to spend with Mary Anne. Apparently three months in Stoneybrook aren’t enough. First Dawn holds a Friends Day to hang out with the BSC girls, some other Stoneybrook friends, and a bunch of sitting charges. Then she has a Family Day with Mary Anne and their parents. Then she goes back to California and we get to celebrate because this is the last Dawn book. Yay!
Thoughts: Clearly someone read The Westing Game before writing this book. Both stories are about a will that includes a puzzle, and both puzzles end up requiring the participants to share clues to solve it. But The Westing Game is ten million times better than this book. The clues in this one are really lame. Cary’s were much better. When a 13-year-old comes up with better clues than an old man, you know there’s a problem.
Patrick’s alias is John Irving. I wonder if the ghostwriter meant that as a reference to the writer or if it was just a coincidence.
I’m surprised Dawn doesn’t say anything about using candy as a prize when she and Abby organize a treasure hunt for their sitting charges.
Seriously, now all I want to do is reread The Westing Game. And imagine Turtle kicking Dawn in the shins.
Kristy takes her family trip to Hawaii, but the BSC girls barely mention it. They don’t even give her a going-away party or anything. Weird.